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Song of the Andoumboulou: 77 | The Nation

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Song of the Andoumboulou: 77

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 A new name remembering
  thirteen dead was on the box.
One of seven sets of twins to
 survive. Twins Seven Seven, "Iré"...
  It was day after day of the
   dead again. We lifted shot
glasses filled with salmon fat.
 "No life long enough," we winced.
  We'd been eating tacos and
 falafels filled with confetti,
   shredded newspapers. Head-
  lines blackened our teeth... It was
   day after day of the dead again.
  Repetition was what we had
 and we worked it, Quag's toll
    rose each day. There was the
   it, then there was the it of it, less
  itself than a hum even we could see,
 Quag Nub's Pyrrhic limb... Some-
one's face was in a window squinting,
   scrunched up, looked out intimating
  what soul was. A bubble in my groin made
 me grimace, I looked up, long since in-
sistent we were it, it was us, Osiris's
   chthonic run... Day after day of the
  dead again. Day after day went by
    without emolument. Nub's low growl
   and regret... It wasn't run what we
    did, hesitation was what we had, no
  step not taken back. Trepidation was what
 we had. No way could we breathe deep
   enough, brace against what would
  come... If we ran it ran with us. No way
     could we be alive enough. Bumped
    earth escaped us, lost in low scrub, the it
   of it given up, let go... There would be
 bits of it ever after, its it scattered. This
  would be known as time. So we read in
what would be our book should there be a book,
 address not arrived as yet, book in abeyance,
  book meant beginning to be gone... It
wasn't my face we saw in the window albeit tunes
    from my youth were in the book. "Little
   Sunflower," "Equinox," "Doxy," on and
 on, played by a beginners band. It was a sad
  glad children's orchestra, an all-souls band we
    were told... Mock-awkward Monk it might've been,
     unintended, so tenuous it made us weep... We
   sipped salmon fat, beginners against our will.
      Vicarious consort, vicarious kin... Washed
    ashore no one could say where, mystic habitat,
  Quag's necropolitan outskirts, Quaph... Day
 after day went by, mock promise. Erstwhile
    body, yet-to-be book, box yet to be within
   earshot... More ghost of what it was than
  an echo, long since not even a shell. So we said
   or said we saw, were told we saw... Whatsaid
 savvy, apocryphal witness. Long since no longer
  its it, more say than saw... Said we saw an 
edge in front of us... The way the ground fell away spoke
    loudly. A pregnant star, dilated light... It was
   the end of something risen, lifted up only to subside, ythm's
 hushed insistence it seemed... So it was in what was
    always aftermath, day after day of the dead
  again, again no longer the it of it it was... Book
 said to be wet with lipsmear, seal against what was
    to come. Love's chronic lovers Nubstruck... Quag's
   quaint romance blown up... An ailing voice
  would come out of it, box as much as book,
     sing its heart out we'd say,    begin with
    humming, not the hum from before, Nub's
   alibi, summon something said out of hearing, mum
 amen

About the Author

Nathaniel Mackey
Nathaniel Mackey teaches at Duke University and is the editor of Hambone. His most recent book of poems is Splay Anthem...

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